Poetry – Issue 23 | November 2015
Two poems by Anne Babson
Norse Explorers Reach the Mississippi
Whorled—like the son who becomes
The dragon— the spine dips
Like a Side- Winding stream,
Beowulf’s Gaets (by Lief
Eriksson of other ships)
Arrive at last at the river’s lips.
After the Vineland which they vanquished,
They trek inland looking for gold.
They see it snaking darkly
Like the tail of the lovely she-
Demon who bargained death
Against glory for go-getters.
They, too, have thorn-lettered
Their names to the contract
Their laird signed. They, too,
Could own an open landscape
Peppered by people to vanquish
In werldschmerz and walled-up regret.
They stand on the steep bluff
And overlook the oval arc
Of the current. They crave more.
Without leaving Wattled huts,
They go home to glaciers again.
The path of this Mississippi
Changes every year. Floods crop up
In new places where no one
Thought to put paved levees.
After those Vikings, Mark Twain wrote
That steamboat pilots struck envy
In every schoolboy’s book bag, and now
I stand here. all explorers
Have gone. Map topographers
Use satellite. Unclear curves
Get clarified electronically.
I crave more. Call the she-demon –
I think she’s slot-machining
With nickel slugs at the casino—
I’m almost ready to write it off,
Beowolf- style, battle-wearily.
Maybe I want sons so badly
I’ll sleep in the snakepit.
Call her. Pour mead on the carpet –
Then she comes. When cheap booze
Flows, when wrestlers watch football screens,
When oldies blare out speakers,
She comes. Call her carefully;
She’s dressed to kill. Call her for me
To strike the pact again for stately
Favor in exchange for chasing the
Amphibian skin in fog,
That I might manifest
Some heroic inclination,
Vanquishing Viking thugs in
The unlit woods of Warren County.
Call her. I’ll Cock the hammer –
Think of Thor. Call her thither.
I’ll thorn the Parchment through.
About the author
Anne’s work has travelled all over the world, but more recently to Barrow Street, Cider Press Review, Iota, Iowa Review and Poetry Salzburg, among others. Read her first full-length collection The White Trash Pantheon (Vox Press, 2015) and chapbook, Poems Under Surveillance (Finishing Line Press, 2013).
Read our current issue:
Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams
Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok